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Mobility and Redistributive Politics


  • Hindriks, Jean


There is widespread concern that greater mobility of individuals can undermine any attempt to redistribute income at the local level. In this paper we derive the equilibrium level of redistribution when both the rich and the poor are imperfectly mobile and when each jurisdiction chooses its redistributive policy by majority voting. This leads to a fundamental interaction whereby the policy choices of jurisdictions determine whom they attract and where whom they attract determines their policy choices. Our main findings are twofold. First, we show that greater mobility of the poor can increase the equilibrium amount of redistribution. Second, we find that some jurisdictions can be in equilibrium on the "wrong" side of their Laffer curve. The reason is that the poor are in a majority in these jurisdictions and they are opposed to a potentially Pareto-improving tax reduction because it would attract the rich and shift the majority. The analysis also reveals how the interplay between policy choices and membership leads to multiple equilibria. Copyright 2001 by Blackwell Publishing Inc.

Suggested Citation

  • Hindriks, Jean, 2001. " Mobility and Redistributive Politics," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 3(1), pages 95-120.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jpbect:v:3:y:2001:i:1:p:95-120

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Guggenberger, Patrik & Kaul, Ashok & Kolmar, Martin, 2002. "Efficiency properties of labor taxation in a spatial model of restricted labor mobility," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 447-473, July.
    2. FIGUIÈRES, Charles & HINDRIKS, Jean & MYLES, Gareth D., 2001. "Revenue sharing versus expenditure sharing," CORE Discussion Papers 2001015, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    3. Glazer, Amihai & Kanniainen, Vesa & Poutvaara, Panu, 2008. "Income taxes, property values, and migration," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 915-923, April.
    4. Jonathan Hamilton & Pierre Pestieau, 2005. "Optimal Income Taxation and the Ability Distribution: Implications for Migration Equilibria," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 12(1), pages 29-45, January.
    5. Schmidheiny, Kurt, 2006. "Income segregation from local income taxation when households differ in both preferences and incomes," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 270-299, March.
    6. Puy, M. Socorro, 2007. "Skill distributions and the compatibility between mobility and redistribution," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 345-362, May.
    7. John Deskins & Brian Hill, 2010. "State taxes and economic growth revisited: have distortions changed?," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 44(2), pages 331-348, April.
    8. Lee, Woojin, 2004. "Mobility and tax competition when wages are endogenously determined," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 347-353, June.
    9. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre, 2002. "Factor Mobility and Redistribution: A Survey," IDEI Working Papers 154, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised 2003.
    10. Alan Krause, 2009. "A general equilibrium analysis of the Laffer argument," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 33(4), pages 601-615, November.
    11. Alan Krause, 2007. "A Tax Reform Analysis of the Laffer Argument," Discussion Papers 07/10, Department of Economics, University of York.
    12. Haavio, Markus, 2005. "Transboundary pollution and household mobility: Are they equivalent?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 252-275, September.
    13. Hakan Yilmazkuday, 2011. "Intranational Trade and Regional Tax Rates: A Welfare Analysis on the U.S. Economy," Working Papers 1106, Florida International University, Department of Economics.
    14. Kessler, Anke S. & Lulfesmann, Christoph, 2005. "Tiebout and redistribution in a model of residential and political choice," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 501-528, February.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • R51 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Finance in Urban and Rural Economies


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